OK, so I guess babies can’t really be activists, but they can certainly attend protests with their parents. And they can also get their first introductions to numbers and letters through activism in these two board books.
Innosanto Nagara’s “A is for Activist” was published by Seven Stories Press in 2013, and his new book, “Counting on Community” came out from the same publisher this week. Both feature vibrant, chunky imagery in an artistic style similar to many social movement banners and flyers (not surprising given the themes and that Nagara is a graphic designer for activist causes).
“Counting on Community,” as you might expect, is a numbers book. It starts out, “Living in community, it’s lot of FUN! Let’s count the ways. Let’s start with ONE.” Then it goes up to 10, with things like 3 urban farmers, 7 bikes and scooters, and 9 yummy potluck dishes. The lives/communities portrayed definitely made me think of my organizer and activist friends in D.C., Philly and elsewhere.
“A is for Activist” is an alphabet book. I actually have “A de Activista,” a Spanish edition written by Martha González, so I’m not sure what the English examples are. The Spanish edition features concrete people and activities — R for Father Romero, ‘M’ for march — as well as abstract ideas and ideals, such as ‘D’ for democracy and ‘E’ for equity.
If that sounds like a bit much for babies and toddlers, consider this excerpt from an FAQ on Nagara’s website:
Is this really for kids? Seems like there are a lot of big words.
Yes, there are some big words and concepts in there, but not bigger than a “gruvvulous glove” or a “rippulous pond” (Lorax). And at the end of the day, if our kids memorize words like “democracy” or “movimiento”, isn’t that just as good as “Fiffer-feffer-feff” (Dr. Seuss’s ABCs) or “Gheeling” (Wocket in my Pocket)?
Those are from great books that I love reading to my son, and have stood the test of generations. The point they make is that at this age every book you read them doesn’t have to be about teaching vocabulary that can be immediately applied in daily “conversation”. This is about you spending meaningful time with your child, and both of you enjoying it. My son does like saying “zapatista” now, but he first picked up on “boo! hiss!” and pointing out the angry elephant.
If you want to expose your kids to thinking about how to build a better world early, check out these books. It’ll be easy as ABC/123.
And be sure to hunt for the black cat on every spread in “A is for Activist” and a duck on every spread in “Counting on Community.”